20 March 2014

Nigeria: Expert Says Nigeria Needs Political Will to Tackle HIV/Aids

An expert on HIV and AIDS, Mr Philip O'Brien, has said that Nigeria needs political will to effectively tackle HIV/AIDS.

O'Brien, is the Executive Vice President, Communication, Advocacy and Development at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDs Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) on Thursday in Geneva that the situation in Nigeria was not different from other African countries.

"It is important that Nigeria increases its political commitment in both the state and the federal level to fight HIV and AIDS," he said.

According to him, Nigeria and Ethiopia are two African countries where the epidemic has been a serious challenge.

"Nigeria is unfortunately one of the two countries where there is a huge challenge of HIV and AIDS," he said.

He said that the country had made concerted efforts in tackling the scourge at the federal level while the states had not done much.

"The strength of Nigeria at the federal level system is strong.

"If you are going to deal with HIV and AIDS, you have got to deal with it consistently across every part of the country," he said.

O'Brien, noted that no country in Africa had met the 15 per cent budget allocation agreed by the AU member-nations to the health sector and 10 per cent to HIV and AIDS.

He said that the parliament has a significant role to play in tackling the scourge by ensuring that adequate funds were allocated to the health sector.

Similarly, Mrs Tabitha Khumalo, a member of the Zimbabwean parliament said that Sub-Saharan Africa had not done much in tackling HIV and AIDS.

She also attributed the spread of the epidemic to the lack of political will by African governments.

Khumalo, noted that the parliament could not hold the executive accountable because of the failure to domesticate protocols and conventions signed by African countries.

She expressed fears that there may be a serious generational gap in Africa if nothing is done to check the death rate of children infected by the virus.

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